Many people view creating an estate plan as a one-time event. However, this mindset could lead to serious issues after an individual passes away. This is why reviewing your trust on a set schedule or whenever you experience major life changes is a must. Failing to do so could leave you with an outdated or unenforceable estate plan. Such plans can lead to beneficiaries contesting a trust after your passing. These issues are just a few to consider if you want to prevent litigation.
1. Check Power of Attorney and Conservatorship Details
A thorough estate plan should plan for more than just your death. An estate plan can determine who makes health care and financial decisions in the event of your incapacitation. Without proper documents in place, family members who believe they are best equipped to represent you may become locked in a court battle. Review these documents regularly to ensure that your named conservator can act in your best interest.
2. Consider Recent Family Changes
Unexpected family changes can place enormous stress on you. These events include:
- Untimely deaths,
- Divorces, and
While changing your trust in the wake of loss may be challenging, it should be a priority. Out-of-date trusts that leave assets to an estranged family member might give rise to litigation. If your trust includes anyone who has divorced out of the family or an individual who has passed, then you should also update it immediately. Other beneficiaries might consider contesting a trust to remove these individuals from the line of inheritance.
3. Review Your Choice of Successor
Since being a trustee is a significant responsibility, you should review your choice of trustee on a regular basis. The person you chose when you initially created your trust may no longer be the right choice. Choosing the wrong trustee could draw out the administration of your trust and even cause the misdistribution of your assets. Both situations are likely to end in trust contestation and litigation.
4. Think About Your Separate Property
Married individuals may believe that everything they leave behind will go to their spouse. But, if you and your spouse own separate property, the courts may divide your separate property between your spouse and children. This can lead to conflicts if your children believe that certain separate property should not go to your spouse, or vice-versa. Make sure your estate plan reflects who you wish to inherit your separate property, to stop this conflict before it can ignite.
If one family member believes your estate plan fails to reflect your wishes, they could resort to litigation. This could complicate the administration of your estate, cause family disputes or worse. The best way to prevent someone from contesting a trust is to keep it up-to-date. Look for discrepancies, loopholes or inconsistencies that could leave the trust open to contestation.
Contact a Pasadena Trust Litigation Attorney to Handle a Trust Dispute
When it comes to estate planning, it pays to be diligent. However, life can get in the way and prevent us from being as dutiful as we should be. If you fear your loved one’s estate plan is out-of-date or compromised in some way, then you need a diligent Pasadena trust litigation attorney. At The Aslanian Law Firm, we help families who believe their loved one’s trust is being mishandled. We stand with you when a family dispute is unavoidable. Contact our office at 626-345-7210 to schedule an appointment.